Animating by hand or with a tablet

I have a small tablet, and it is much harder to use then simply drawing by hand. I’ve been using it for a while but its just so much faster to draw by hand even with computer advantages. Is it possible to use hand drawing in toon boom without having to buy that much more equipment other then a scanner, or is there any tips for getting better with a tablet? I have a small one, should i get a bigger one?

Also, i dont want to have to buy one of those screen tablets, toon boom pro is the big purchase i’d get

Well, in the end it all comes down to personal preferences…
In the “old days” I drew everything by hand with any media…
Since I am using a computer, an 24” iMac with a Wacom Intuos 9x12
I have never looked back, drawing with this tablet has become second nature…

I really prefer to draw directly with my tablet into TBS (personal preference),
my scanner I use only for importing documents and some photos…

I am using an 15” iBook as well and just got a new Wacom Bamboo Fun small,
(feels a little more “grippy”, like drawing on real paper) I am really impressed with the performance of this little “unit” - drawing is easy and really great fun.


Here is an interesting video lesson at the Cartooning In Toon Boom Wiki that presents a work flow for importing scanned drawing into TBS that you might find useful. Certainly the new import and vectorize with textures feature makes this method much more useful. The artist/narrator, David Nethery, teaches art and animation and is an excellent presenter. -JK


ok, thanks for all the help guys, i’ll check it out, and i’ll practice more with my tablet, i probably need more practice. The hardest thing is getting the proportions right.

That is so totally true of all drawing, proportions and perspective are always a challenge on paper or on a tablet. Just use the traditional approach and break all your character’s measurements into multiples of the character’s head size. It works and is easy to remember. As to perspective, draw the grid and use it with a light table for traditional drawing or drawing directly in the software. See the tip below on inside the software perspective grids. -JK

Frame Counters and Perspective Grids

That is so totally true of all drawing, proportions and perspective are always a challenge on paper or on a tablet. Just use the traditional approach and break all your character’s measurements into multiples of the character’s head size. It works and is easy to remember. As to perspective, draw the grid and use it with a light table for traditional drawing or drawing directly in the software. See the tip below on inside the software perspective grids. -JK

Frame Counters and Perspective Grids

Exactly what i mean, thats why drawing with tablets is tougher for me, even though i can get it right eventually, its so much faster by hand when you can see the entire paper (i have to zoom in in order to draw with a tablet). The grid thing you’re talking about is like a turnabout during character design? Sorry i dont know what i’m talking about :stuck_out_tongue: but still it sounds very helpful. By the way, what exactly do you need for doing hand drawn animation that you latter do inking and coloring and everything else with toon boom. I can get toon boom for a start, but what about things like light tables and paper, i know i could research but i think it might be alittle easier to ask you if you know.

Great question, I’ll do my best to point you in a direction to get started.

You need paper and pencils for a start. You also need a simple registration method like using a two or three hole paper punch for creating holes in your paper and then some wooden or metal round pegs sized and spaced to match the holes you punched in your drawing paper and mounted to your drawing surface. Plastic three hole peg bars are available via the internet for about $7 US. You should buy two of these , one for your drawing surface and one for your scanner. Avoid Acme or Oxberry style peg bars as the punching of the paper is very expensive, and three hole paper punches are cheap and easy to find. Paper is cheap, use 8 1/2 x 11 printer paper that is 18 lbs plain white. HB pencils work fine for clean up before scanning, some people clean up using a black felt tip pen, I like HB pencils.

You will also need a good quality scanner attached to your computer for scanning in your drawings.

A back lit translucent drawing surface is useful but not critical. Many people use a milk white piece of Plexiglass as a drawing surface. Just so that it is translucent so light can show through it and your drawing layers. You can tape the peg bar down on the plastic surface.

That’s all you really need to draw by hand then scan into TBS and go from there. It is also very useful to have a copy of Photoshop Elements to act as the front end to your scanning prior to importing into TBS so that you can do some scanning clean up. I hope this helps. -JK

Thanks, that is very helpful, I also think i have a copy of photoshop elements already. I have a photocopier that scans very nicely, so i dont need to buy anymore expensive hardwere.

I’m glad that I could be of some help. Let us know how you are progressing and if you have additional questions. -JK

Thanks so much, you have been a ton of help, i’ll tell you when i get everything together, i’ll probably get the supplies first and then toon boom pro (i can get a student discount :wink: ). Anyway, after i get the pictures and scan them onto the computer, where should i color them, directly on toon boom? I can ink well with a tablet and especially with toon boom due to the smooth feature, it makes it easy. Toon Boom can onion skin too so i’m guessing that would be very helpful for coloring. Well, let me first sketch the animation and then i’ll go from there.

When computer software was first introduced as an aid to animation, the earliest versions were referred to as INK & PAINT tools. All of the animating and drawing was done manually out side the software and just the inking and painting were done to create the cells. So most animation computer software has it roots in being a great tool for inking and painting. Over time the software has evolved to today’s versions which are self-contained animation production systems. They still are excellent for inking and painting but now they are also great for effects creation and compositing and even drawing etc.

Do you think its much more effecient to draw the sketches and animation right onto the computer with a tablet then drawing it by hand? As i said before, drawing by hand is much easier for me, but should i bother learning to draw just as good with the tablet, and if so how should i do it? I do like the idea about scanning.

There is a question that people often ask when you check out at a grocery store “would you prefer paper or plastic?” It has nothing to do with your question but you are asking the same type of question. Paper is the traditional more natural drawing surface. Plastic is the more efficient interface drawing surface. Which is best? is actually not answerable in terms of any kind of absolute. It is totally a personal, situational decision. One size does not fit all in this case. I’ll try to give you some “food” for thought on the subject but that’s all it is, just philosophical discussion.

If you draw on paper and scan into the computer, you are still drawing in the computer but you are using the scanner as your input interface. If you draw on a tablet (direct or indirectly on the screen) you are drawing in the computer and using the tablet as your input interface. Eventually all your drawing ends up inside the computer so we are really talking about interfaces and their usage.

Paper and plastic are both 2D surfaces but they offer different resistance to different drawing tools. This is often technically referred to as tactile feedback. In addition to that drawing on paper provides a sense of direct hand-eye synchronization. While indirect screen tablet drawing doesn’t. (thus the invention of the drawing display tool like the Wacom Cintiq) In truth it is more of a practice issue rather than a real hand-eye coordination issue. We all first learned to look at our pencil and paper as we draw so that seems more natural but looking at a screen and not your pencil is unnatural at first but becomes more natural over time based on usage. So the real obstacle to transitioning to plastic other than learning to adjust to the indirect hand-eye connection is the tactile feedback. There are software applications like Photoshop and Painter that have such sensitive controls for recreating natural tactile feelings for surfaces and media that even that is almost becoming a non-issue.

The discussion eventually gets around to writing a letter, or a report or a book. Given the choice would you write any of these by hand with a pencil or would you prefer and choose a keyboard and word processor. Most people under the age of 40 would probably say keyboard most definitely over pencil and paper. The advantages for efficiency in composing and editing are so much better working with a word processor over using a pad of paper. The same is true about graphical software so why do people still choose pencil and paper over a tablet interface? Familiarity of usage and reluctance to invest in the time to transition that familiarity.

Like I said there is no absolute answer and this is all just food for thought. -JK

Hello again, sorry for not being on in a while. Anyway i was wondering whether you knew where there were any videos of somebody going through the full process of sketching, inking, doing everything in the animation process on toon boom alone? I really like the idea of drawing right onto toon boom because of all the advantages, but i dont know exactly how sketching is done onto it.

Please have a look at JK’s excellent articles:

Anyway, if you like, just for Easter, here is a very basic Video-Demonstration,
drawing and animating a little “Easter-Chicken”.

Happy Easter

LOL, i love the animation! Happy easter to you too :). You are extremely good at animation, i hope i will do as well some day. Thank you for helping me, i will definitely check out that article.

i know i could research this, but do you know what the big differences between Toon Boom and Toon Boom Pro are?

I don’t know how many others of you out there started with Toon Boom this way, but up til now I’ve been using my mouse to create my animations, and on my Mac, the results have been much better than I’ve expected. Wish I can say the same for the PC I got for my birthday…my husband bought me a new computer AND a copy of Toon Boom for my 50th and to say I’m happy is the understatement of the century. I of course love it, but I noticed some rather subtle differences straight away… I can’t really get the same smooth line action from my mouse like I did on my beloved Mac. Oh, I can still draw, but it lacks the same precision no matter how I reset my mouse. Bummer…looks like I’m gonna have to get m’self a Wacom! BTW, my Mac is now residing in Apple heaven as we speak, bless it’s little cathode tube…

Haha, I see, well I’m going for a bigger wacom myself, probably an intuos. one nice thing about using a mouse with toon boom is the line and circle shape creators, like in Flash.